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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ooty

Ooty, short for Ootacamund (an anglicized name for Udhagamandalam), is a popular hill resort in the state of Tamil Nadu in Southern India.
Located in the mountainous range called the Nilgiris ("Blue Mountains"), it draws swarms of tourists every year. The weather is quite pleasant at a mean of 15-20°C around the year, dropping to lows of 0°C during winter. The landscape is marked by rolling hills covered with dense vegetation, smaller hills and plateaus covered with tea gardens, and eucalyptus trees. Many portions of the hills are preserved as natural reserve forests, and special permits will be needed to camp in noncamp sites. *Ooty, is not the destination in itself, as much as it is the focal point of attraction. Auto touring the surrounding country side is certainly a must do. Unfortunately, the hill town suffers from overcrowding and erosion of natural resources. Tourism has placed an enormous strain on the natural resources resulting in pollution, water shortage and roads.
The hilly region also houses smaller towns like Coonoor and Kotagiri. These smaller towns are a better choice to visit and spend time in, since they are off the beaten path, yet less than 1 hour away from Ooty. They enjoy the same natural climes and prices are a lot cheaper.

Distance from Ooty to various cities: 
  • Coonoor (17 km)
  • Kotagiri (28 km)
  • Coimbatore (89 km)
  • Coorg (225 km)
  • Kodaikanal (236 km)
  • Munnar (282 km)
  • Bangalore (297 km)
  • Calicut (187 km)

Get Around
Taxis, tourist cabs, auto rickshaws are available in plenty. There are no standard rates except tourist cabs. Rickshaws charge a minimum of Rs 30. Town buses are also available to all important places. Conducted sight seeing tours are arranged by the private operators and the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC). There are around 3-4 different day trip routes/packages available. Bus day-trip cost around Rs 125-150 and taxi day-trip cost around Rs 900-1100. Even if you arranged the taxi through the hotel (even TTDC), please verify with the hotel and operator before the trip that there are no hidden costs. Because the taxi drivers demand high parking fees extra and lunch, which is already paid for. The bus/taxi drivers get commission from remote restaurants and shops and they are overpriced, try avoiding such restaurants. Both bus and taxi will take tourists to some remote high-priced restaurant for lunch, try not to eat in such places because the food is cold, overpriced and place is not clean beyond the facade, and you will end up paying for taxi driver's lunch too.
Also avoid auto drivers recommendation they will take you to the hotels for accommodation where they get 20% commission which will be already added in your room tariff without your knowledge.

Tourist Attraction In & Around Ooty
Ooty Botanical Gardens
If you are on a sightseeing tour to Ooty, you might want to visit the Government Botanical gardens, which were laid out in 1847.The picturesque gardens that are maintained by the Horticulture department of the state, cover an area of about 22 hectares. The Gardens have well over 650 species of plants and trees, including a fossil of a tree, which is believed to be more than 20 million years old. The garden is very popular with nature lovers and those who long to walk among greenery and see rare ferns and shrubs up close. If you are in Ooty in the month of May, then you can also be a part of the summer festival, which is held here annually. The festival holds flower shows and various cultural programs showcasing the talent of the locals and the renowned artists.
Doddabetta peak
The Dodabetta Peak stands at an altitude of 2,623 meters. It is the highest point in the district, making it possibly the best vantage point around Ooty. It is merely 10km from Ooty so you can simply grab your camera and head straight to the peak, and click amazing pictures of he valley below. Many say that on a clear day, which is honestly not that often, one can see far off areas, even the plains of Coimbatore and the flat highlands of Mysore.you can get there by catching a bus from ooty bus stand which will just charge you 10 Rs. but will have to walk about 3 km. from the stop where the bus will drop you. you will enjoy the way up the peak ,if you love walking.
Annamalai Temple
Annamalai Temple is a situated about 20 km distance from Ooty. This place has grown as a famous temple of Lord Muruga, known as 7th Hill house of the lord. The view from the Temple is really awesome. There is an observatory at the top of hill for the public to enjoy the magnificent panoramic view.
Ooty Rose gardens
its an amazing and very large area garden. You can enjoy varieties of roses there. The roses bloom only for 2-3 months a year (not sure when), so going there off-season is not very interesting. If interested can buy the seeds and plants also.
Wax World - (Wax Museum)
Its a private investment not supported by Govt. Don't expect much like other foreign wax museum which are helped by tourism authorities for advertisements and promotions. But for sight seeing its good. More attraction is the very old house, where the museum is set up. Candles are available. But it is suffering from funds for expansion so they request tourists to visit so that they can get help from them, which is the only form of support.
Sims Park (Coonoor)
Similar to ooty botanical garden, very rare plants and trees are present. The park is famous for the fruit show it hosts annually during summer festivals.
The Tea Factory
Several tree gardens and factories are there. On the way you will get lots of them. They will approach you with free tea taste and offer some tea packets to buy. But be cautious if you don't have much knowledge about tea, better not to buy from them as the packet tea has not the same taste as they gave you to taste.The spices quality is not so good.
Boating at Pykara
it's an awesome experience. Though the rate of boating is little bit high but still it is worthy. Fresh air, good feeling and good view
  • Falls at Pykara
  • Historical Dam with Power station at Pykara
  • Hidden Valley
  • Echo Rock
Some called it as 'Lambs rock" naturally took the shape of a lamb. Go through a very small forest and then you can see the rock.
  • Shooting point One very nice place is that. Don't miss it. The view is very pleasant.
  • Pine forest Its a natural beauty. After the end of the forest a lake is there. Be careful while walking as the path has slope.
  • Dolphin's Nose

Must Do in Ooty
Most travel agents / hotels conduct guided tour packages that will bundle you into a bus, and tick off the most important and hence crowded "tourist" spots in the area. Some hotels also arrange for private cars like Indica, TATA Sumo.
  • Enjoy the weather.
  • Travel on the railway. The charming Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), blue and cream with wooden coaches and large windows, is widely regarded as a marvel of engineering.
  • Go for long walks and hikes.
  • Visit a tea plantation and if possible a tea factory.
  • Ooty is famous for its choclates, and the best place to have them is at King's Star. They have around 4 outlets in Ooty and are the first chocolate makers in ooty. (the shops are run by the 3rd Generation of the family)
  • Travel the country side in a 4x4.
  • Catch a round of golf at the Gymkhana Golf course (membership or introduction required)
  • Visit the local Army cantonment - the Madras Regimental Center and the DSSC (Defense Services Staff College).
  • Visit terrace farmed cabbage fields around Ooty.
  • Visit the Mudumalai forest sanctuary (1-2 days minimum).
  • Visit the Needle industries which is around 6km from maintown Ooty in Ketti.
  • Visit 9th mile and also the 6th mile where lot of movies are shot:-)
  • Visit the Municipal Market and shop for fresh local fruits.
  • You can get farm fresh carrot on the way.
  • Horse back ridingIt's popular here. In one hour you can go around the lake or longer rides you can visit countryside around Ooty. Some knowledge of horses would be good as the guides are local men who don't speak too much english, teaching is minimal. On top of the price you have to pay for guide. usd 4/hour.  edit
  • Bakasura MalaiSome say that this was the place where Tipu sultan hid himself during the time of war. One can see all the three states from this point. Though you will to reach the place, the entire walk could be the most memorable in your life. It is usually not recommended by taxi/cab drivers as the place is remote and most of the distance needs to be covered by walk.